A program to provide jobs and increase health care workers from some economically disadvantaged Rochester city zip codes is underway.
Finger Lakes Performing Provider System (FLPPS) and HCR Home Care and several other community partners have teamed up to recruit, certify and train 660 Home Health Aides over the next three years.
Participation is open to the general public but they are targeting people from specific zip codes in the city of Rochester including: 14604, 14605, 14607, 14608, 14609, 14611, 14612, 14613, 14619, 14620 and 14621.
The program is supported by grants from the city of Rochester and ESL Charitable Foundation, and is a collaboration between FLPPS, HCR, Rochester Regional Health Home Care (RRHHC), UR Medicine Home Care (URMHC), AVS Consulting Strategies, EE Pathways (formerly known as Exercise Express), and Wellness Associates of Greater Rochester.
While HCR will be doing the job training portion of the program—at their Brighton Campus—they are also one of the 3 participating employers. The other employers are RRHHC and URMHC.
“The great thing is, all three of the employers are hiring the trainees in advance of the training so they are employees as they step foot in the program on day one,” notes Chris Chimenti, HCR’s Senior Director of Clinical Innovation. “And they’re paid for all their training. That is something quite unique to this program.”
Starting pay is $16.50 per hour and candidates can expect a $1,000 stipend paid after certification.
“It’s $250 upon successful certification, another $250 at three months of successful employment and they get the other $500 after six months of successful employment,” Chimenti said. “The wage is provided throughout the training and upon entry level into the field as a home health aide. The hourly rate will be reevaluated again when the next NYS minimum wage increase is established.”
There’s a pre-employment training that will be conducted by AVS Consulting Strategies and upon graduation there’s a post certification training that will be conducted by Wellness Associates of Greater Rochester.
Carol Tegas, FLPPS Executive Director says there is a dire need for healthcare workers, especially home health aides in the greater Rochester area. “In general, the higher the percentage of elderly, the more need there is for Home Health Aides (HHAs),” she said. “18.3% of Monroe County’s population is over age 65, a higher percentage than both NY State as a whole and the United States.”
HHAs provide care to people after a hospital stay or to people needing help managing an illness. Tasks include helping people with daily activities like getting dressed, bathing and eating; checking vital signs; and reminding people to take medications. The position can be the beginning of a healthcare career and can lead to other positions such as a licensed practical nurse or a registered nurse.
Tegas notes that prior to the (COVID) pandemic, it was difficult to recruit, train and retain HHAs primarily due to the pay rate but the problem worsened even more during the pandemic. “People who apply to be HHAs come from the same labor pool as those who work in the fast food, retail, and hospitality industries.”
“As the labor pool tightened, these industries began raising wages, passing the cost increases on to their customers. It is much more difficult to increase prices in the healthcare industry than in the fast-food industry, thus wages have not been able to keep pace with wage increases in other sectors.”
“Our new alliance creates valuable training and job opportunities for community members to build successful careers in the ever-growing healthcare industry,” said Rochester Regional Health Home Care VP Susan Bourne. “By preparing the next generation of caregivers, we also help fulfill Rochester Regional Health’s commitment to provide the highest quality and most affordable care, delivered with kindness, integrity and respect.”
The funds provided by the city of Rochester comes from a $14.5 million grant from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) that has been allocated to several community organizations to provide workforce development and entrepreneurship training including landscape maintenance, urban agriculture, the culinary and construction trades, health care and cloud computing.
Once hired, HHAs will need to complete 75 hours of paid training (over 3 weeks) and pass a test to become certified in New York state. Applicants must have a high school diploma or GED and be able to pass a background check.
HCR and Rochester Regional Health Home Care currently have open HHA positions, and UR Medicine Home Care will be recruiting candidates this summer. Interested candidates can apply on their websites: https://www.hcrhealth.com/careers; https://careers.rochesterregional.org/; or https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/home-care/careers
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